Furrow CollectiveFurrow Collective
Album: Blow Out The Moon
Label: Furrow
Tracks: 5

"Blow Out The Moon" the new EP from the Furrow Collective follows on from last years excellent debut album release "At Our Next Meeting" with similar stripped back interpretations of traditional folk songs.

And yet again less is more.

"Poor Old Horse" opens the EP, it starts at a trot before the tempo raises to a gallop, Lucy Farrell takes the lead and the race to the post takes a bare one minute forty one seconds. You want it to last longer. And like every new interpretation of song, the temptation to compare it to your favourite version is great, (in this case Muckram Wakes version from "The Map Of Derbyshire" featuring JohnTams, Helen & Roger Watson is mine). You ask yourself does the "new" version add anything? The close harmonies and minimalist instrumentation make the answer a resounding "yes".

"Shule Agra" in the hands of Emily Portman becomes less of a lament with an added last verse from a manuscript of Lady John Scott's dating back to the 1840's. It sees the grief of loss being put aside, the weeping ended and a final loving goodbye said before moving forward.

Plucked strings evoke a dreamlike state as Rachel Newton tackles "The Unquiet Grave" a ghost story of love from beyond the grave. Bellowhead did it with volume, Gryphon mournfully progged it up in the Seventies, Sam Kelly last year recorded it with emotion and now the Furrow Collective offer stark simplicity before a guitar break adds a counterpoint, then we finish with the plaintive plucking. It's breathtakingly good.

Alasdair Roberts takes centre stage on "Lament To The Moon" a song he picked up from the late Packie Manus Byrne from Donegal. Four part harmonies add to the pleasure before we all too quickly arrive at the final track.

"Oh To Be In My Bed An Happit" is seamlessly joined with "Blow Out The Moon" the former a gentle love song of desire and the night to be "seven years long" the latter lyrics come from a book of children's verse called "Far, Far Away" compiled by Elizabeth Hammill and the tune is by Lucy Farrell. It's a match made in heaven, it leaves us wanting more.

Please though don't take my view as gospel, do check the Furrow Collective out yourselves - they are currently touring the UK promoting the EP. Enjoy.

Ian Cripps

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